We’re back with another Busch Gardens Tampa update! Lots of news and photos, so
let’s get right to it, shall we?
Howl-O-Scream is in its final week, terrorizing guests select nights through October 26.
The Sahara Trading Co. shop has once again been transformed into the Shop of
Horrors (your “one stop shop” for all your Howl-O-Scream souvenirs), but this year
the theme is the Butcher’s Shop (featuring one of this year’s 13 icons, The Butcher).
Free Beer Is Back… Kind Of
During the month of October, annual passholders can visit the Crown Colony Pub
between 11:00am and 4:00pm, show their valid 1 or 2 year pass and can receive 2
free 10oz draft beers absolutely free! The limit is 2 per passholder per day and of
course you must be 21 or older. However, the selection of beers is limited to
Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra or Yuengling. A little disappointing if you’re not
a fan of domestic brews. But… free beer!
Garden Gate Change
The former Garden Gate pizza and pasta buffet which closed in late August due to
budget cuts has been transformed into Garden Gate Craft Brews. Unfortunately the
location was closed for the day by the time we reached that area of the park, but we
plan to check it out on a future visit and will report on what we find. Considering
Garden Gate is the former Hospitality House when the park was run by
Anhauser-Busch, it’s nice to see this location focused on brews again (though sadly
not free).
Lion Cubs Growing Up
Earlier this year, Busch Gardens introduced three lion cubs obtained in collaboration
with a private zoological facility in South Africa. These furry babies are growing up
fast! The male cub is now about 7½ month old and the females (sisters) are about
5½ months old.
Falcon’s Fury Construction Progress
Still not much to be seen just yet, but work is most definitely happening behind
those walls. Crews were working during our visit to the park. We heard they’ve been
installing the underground supports for this monster drop tower. Hopefully we’ll
finally see some vertical construction in the coming months.
King Julien Meet & Greet
King Julien, the lovably flamboyant lemur who likes to “move it, move it” of the
Madagascar films, is doing meet & greets several times daily in the Sultan’s Tent in
the Morocco section of the park (across from the Sultan’s Sweets shop). This is in
addition to the meet & greets after the Madagascar Live show at Stanleyville
Christmas Town
Even though Howl-O-Scream is the current “flavor of the month”, Busch Gardens
isn’t resting on their laurels. The park recently sent an email to annual passholders
with information about this year’s Christmas Town event, which promises to be
bigger and better than its freshman run last year. More nights, more lights, more
This year’s event will run 18 select nights November 29 to December 23. Once
again guests will be immersed in special Christmas entertainment offerings,
twinkling festive lights, all sorts of yummy treats and more! The immensely popular
Snow World (sponsored by Coca-Cola) will feature three times as much snow,
allowing youngsters and the young at heart even more space to have some winter
wonderland fun.
There will be four new themed light areas: Christmas Time Terrace, Holiday Hills,
Mistletoe Memories and North Pole in addition to the returning nine themed areas
(Celebration Village, Ice Wonder Way, Jungle Jubilee, Miracle Way, Enchanted
Flamingo Valley, Sesame Street Very Furry Christmas, Poinsettia Parkway, Jingle Bell
Junction and Christmas Town Village). Around 1 million lights will blanket every
section of the park!
New entertainment offerings will include the Christmas Time Terrace Light Show
(which will occur every 15 minutes) and a special Christmas version of Madagascar
Live: Operation Vacation.
Christmas Town is a separate ticket event and runs from 6:00pm to 11:00pm the
nights the event is held. Tickets are $25/$35 depending on the night you attend
(kids ages 3-9 is $10 regardless which night attended). For more information and to
purchase advance tickets, visit the Christmas Town website.

We had the opportunity to check out Christmas Town last year and really enjoyed it.
We’re looking forward to seeing this year’s offerings!
Around the Park
Let’s wrap up with some photos from around this beautiful and underrated park.
That should do it for our latest Busch Gardens Tampa update! Will you be visiting Howl-O-Scream before the month is out? How about Christmas Town during the holidays? Let us know in the comments below!
  • DuckyDelite

    Thanks for the update! I’ve been thinking about doing a trip to Florida for the holidays. The Christmas Town overlay looks great. Bummer it’s a separate ticket.

  • Country Bear

    Thanks for the great report Amy.

    Busch Gardens is one of my favorite Florida parks and is on my “must see” list every time we visit. Animal Kingdom is on our “if we have time” list because Busch Gardens is just so much more impressive for a theme park/zoo mix. There is just so much to do in this park and the gardens are stunning.

    I wanted to ask about the Christmas Town promotion. Do they offer all the regular attractions during this special ticket event as well? If so, the price is pretty cheap for 5 hours of special event fun.

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    They offer most of the coasters (SheikRa, Cheetah Hunt & Gwazi for sure… not sure about Kumba, Scorpion or Montu) and some of the other rides during Christmas Town (including the majority of the Sesame Street kids area… and the Sesame Street characters will be in their Christmas best). The real focus is on the lights, shows and snow play area. Most of the animals are asleep and not on display but they’ll have the penguins again where the otters usually are. Also hoping this year they’ll have the Sky Ride open for a different view of all the lights. They did it toward the end of last year’s event and it was a big hit.

    The way I see it, Christmas Town is a little less than half the cost of the Christmas party at Disney and in some ways you’re getting lots more. And with the kid’s (ages 3-9) price being only $10 no matter what night you go, that’s really a bargain.

  • Rex Dopey24

    great pictures love seeing the christmas lights

  • Gregg Condon

    Great stuff Amy. Still trying to figure out if we are doing FL for our daughters graduation trip next year but BGT is certainly on the list, at least for me and the boy.